Title: The Diary of a Young Girl
Publication Info: Anchor (1996) [Originally published in 1947]
Like many people I thought I knew everything about Anne Frank and her diary and probably like many people I never actually read it. I did see the movie when I was a kid. So, of course, I was in for a big surprise. It is a diary and reads like it was written by a teenage girl concerned with her studies, her changing body, attraction to boys, and asserting independence from her parents. She was also a teenage girl with a great talent for writing and one who was aware as she wrote that her diary would be published. It’s fascinating how Anne Frank captures the personalities of the people she is in hiding with, the petty arguments, the greater political issues of the time, and the ordinary day-to-day life in an extraordinary situation. Knowing what happens, there are a lot of moments of heartbreak. When Anne accidentally incinerates her fountain pen and says it’s turned to ashes just as she hopes to be cremated one day, I shuddered. There are several close calls where there hiding place is almost discovered and the relief of their escape is tempered by the knowledge that they would be caught in the end. Anne hopes to become a writer and journalist, a dream she only achieves posthumously. I kept wishing that Anne Frank had survived the war and lived to tell her story and experience new stories as well.
If you’re like me and haven’t actually read this book, pick up a copy as soon as you can. I think it’s especially worthwhile for teenagers to read as there is much to relate to and much to learn.